Saturday, December 4

Auckland Councilors Divided Over Proposed Housing Density Bill

Auckland councilors are divided over proposed new rules that would make it easier to build houses in the city.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff speaks to the media following the cabinet's extension of the Alert Level 3 lockdown.

Mayor Phil Goff says the bill misses the mark for Auckland.
Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The new Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, which allows up to three houses, three stories high on most sites without resource consent, was introduced last month and is open to presentations.

If signed into law, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch city councils should adopt medium-density residential standards.

Auckland councilors had a long and heated discussion today, with most concerns voiced.

Ōrākei Local Board Chairman Scott Milne, along with board member Troy Churton, said that the existing Unit Plan was already sufficient to meet demand.

He said the current rules were not overly restrictive and allowed for substantial development.

“Our premise is that this bill is not fit for purpose, that the outcome of this bill will be negative impacts far outweighing positive ones, and that we should instead focus on building infrastructure for our city.”

Churton and Milne said the bill would not improve affordability and would incentivize the removal of rules for special character areas.

Albany Ward Councilman John Watson said there were a lot of problems.

“Contrary to the Auckland plan and the unit plan, which focuses on medium and high density in areas with good access to public transport, [this bill would] likely to result in high carbon emissions, much more difficult to effectively and efficiently plan, finance and deliver transportation, water, etc. “.

Watson agreed with the Ōrākei Local Board that the unit plan could already create enough housing.

“We are really in a position of stacking fertilizer on top of fertilizer and everyone knows that when you do that, you actually end up killing the grass, and I think what we would end up doing is killing the quality of life.”

Mayor Phil Goff also said the bill missed the mark for Auckland.

“Currently, 70 percent of our building permits are for intensive housing: apartments or townhouses.

“We are currently approving historically record levels of new construction, 20,000 a year, so that really raises questions about whether there is not enough land to build on.”

Karen Wilson, an independent member of the Maori Statutory Board, wondered if there would be enough commitment to mana whenua given the difficult change.

“Equity issues with Korean have also been discussed, wouldn’t it be terrible to live like this when, in fact, a large proportion of Maori live like this?” He said.

However, Waitākere District Councilor Shane Henderson said the bill would help solve the housing problem.

“I find the word ugliness embarrassing and almost offensive,” Henderson said.

“I would invite people who think our houses are ugly to come to my neighborhood, where we all know our neighbors. Our children grow up together, they play in the public parks next door. I will tell them that we are very proud of our homes.”

Auckland Council is due to present its submission on November 16 before the bill goes to a select committee.

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